We had the pleasure of sitting down with “Serial Entrepreneur” Rich Foster, Co-Founder of Cedar Communities. Rich takes us along on his professional journey from always wanting to start his own business, to successfully self-managing 7 boutique senior living facilities throughout the Southeast. Read the interview below for a peek into the real estate world around senior living facilities, where Rich has found success, and what could be next in his career.
- When you were a kid, what did you dream of doing when you grew up? I always wanted to be an entrepreneur and own my own business. The concept of growing something from 0 to 100 has always been something I loved doing. The rush of building something from scratch, cultivating a hardworking team, and leading a company to an exit has always been a passion of mine. How did you find yourself in commercial real estate? My co-founder Anthony Manetta initially conceived the Cedar Communities model: acquiring private-pay, boutique-sized, senior living communities in secondary and tertiary markets in the Southern belt region of the United States. When Anthony first approached me with this concept, I knew it had great potential: providing the perfect mix of investor security via owning all of the commercial real estate our communities operate from, along with the return potential of a private equity investment via owning all of the operating companies that operate out of the real estate.
- Was senior housing something that always interested you? As an entrepreneur, I’m always interested in the prospect of something new. I always believe that the growth mindset and entrepreneurial spirit doesn’t waver, and it is always exciting to take the aspects of running a business and transition them to a different industry.
- What states have you had the most success in? We have found a real niche in the Southern states, excluding Florida. We find that being in small towns reduces competition while enabling us to capture an entire local market. We have established our communities as fixtures of the local towns that we are in, making connections with local businesses & organizations, houses of worship, hospitals, schools, sports teams and more.
- What is the most fulfilling part of your job? Knowing that I run a company that enriches lives and makes an impact on the communities we serve is incredibly rewarding. Additionally, being able to provide investors with a current yield investment opportunity in a rapidly growing sector is nice icing on the cake.
- What does the future of senior housing look like to you? The market trends are clear: more and more baby boomers need senior living each day and this trend is expected to continue well into the 2030s and beyond. With that in mind, no industry is without headwinds. The challenges in today’s climate are sure to pass and the future for senior living is incredibly bright given the market demographics and overall needs in this space.
- As a “serial entrepreneur” do you see yourself taking on new ventures in the near future? While Cedar is currently my main focus, I am still a Managing Director at my venture capital fund, AngelFire Ventures and certainly see Cedar growing into a larger platform of additional private investment opportunities in the real estate sector, such as a private credit fund focused on senior housing.
- What is something that not everyone knows about you that you believe contributed to the success of your career? You can’t expect me to give away the secret sauce in one interview 🙂
- What is your favorite thing to do in your free time (outside of commercial real estate, of course)? I very much enjoy spending time with my wife and 2 amazing rescue dogs! I am a big supporter of animal rescue (“adopt, don’t shop”) and always make it a priority to help any injured, vulnerable, or lost animals and wildlife.
- What is a common myth about your job or field of expertise? While real estate is our core asset, our business goes far beyond that of a typical real estate business. We operate communities 24/7/365, employing well over 200 employees around the clock, providing top quality care to our residents. This isn’t a real estate investment where we have 1 maintenance worker and send invoices once a month; it is a living, breathing business that employs caretakers, cooks, housekeeping, activities personnel, and much more each and every day to keep our residents happy and ensure they are living enriching lives.